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Strategic framework for the international scientific and technological cooperation

This Communication aims to promote international science and technology cooperation. The Commission’s objective is to set up the strategic framework required to open up the European Research Area (ERA) to the world. In time this framework will contribute to the sustainable development and competitiveness of Europe in the fields of science and technology.

ACT

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 24 September 2008: “A Strategic European Framework for International Science and Technology Cooperation” [COM(2008) 588 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

SUMMARY

A closer partnership between both Member States themselves, and between Member States and the European Community, is particularly necessary to open up the European Research Area (ERA) to the world.

In order for this partnership to be successful, the Commission has established a strategic framework for international science and technology cooperation. This framework provides guidelines which should be implemented by the European Community (EC) and by Member States in close cooperation with third countries.

GUIDLINES FOR OPENING UP THEERA

Achieving an international dimension

To achieve this objective the EC must strengthen ties with European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) partner countries and prepare their potential association to the 7th Framework Programme (FP7). The Commission and Member States can coordinate the implementation of priorities with ENP countries and enhance regional dialogue on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). For its part, the Commission can also establish policy dialogue with ENP countries and promote the dissemination of good practice and the alignment of policies in these countries by allowing them to access the ICT Policy Support Programme (PSP).

The EC should encourage cooperation with specific third countries by following the geographical and thematic priorities determined jointly by the Member States and the Commission. This cooperation could bring added value to the tackling of global challenges such as climate change, poverty, etc. It would enable results to be shared under bilateral agreements and encourage the creation of a European network of experts in the fields of science, ICTs and media in EU delegations located in third countries. Member States and the Commission should also monitor thecoherence of policies on research and development (R&D) and the complementarity of funding mechanisms in order to avoid wasting resources. For its part, the Commission should ensure that cooperation with specific third countries takes advantage of FP7 funding mechanisms and leads to the conclusion of bi-regional agreements with ASEAN and the African Union. Finally, the Commission should continue to provide technical assistance to third countries on ICT policies by learning from the experience of geographically targeted projects such as @LIS for Latin America and EUMEDIS for the Mediterranean.

Improving conditions for international science and technology cooperation

To achieve this goal, Member States and the Commission should encourage international cooperation under the framework of global research infrastructures, including in the ICT sector. They should also explore means to reduce the digital divide in developing countries.

It is important for Member States and for the Commission that mobility of researchers and global networking is encouraged. European researchers who work in a third country, as well as researchers who come to Europe from third countries, must be enabled to continue to contribute to their country’s development through the creation of networks. In order to promote the mobility of researchers, Member States should incorporate the “Scientific Visa Package” into their legislation and introduce grants for researchers returning to their country of origin. Furthermore, Community instruments for international mobility, such as the FP7 “People” Programme in particular, could be adapted.

An opening of research programmes would enable research institutions in all third countries to access R&D programmes. Funding is normally limited to participants from international cooperation partner countries. However, since open competition promotes excellence in research, funding for collaborative projects could be extended to include research organisations and researchers located in industrialised third countries where reciprocal funding is made available for European researchers.

On the basis of international agreements on science and technology cooperation, Member States and the Commission should promote the principles of the Recommendation on the management of intellectual property (IP) on a global scale. These principles guarantee reciprocity, fair treatment and mutual benefits with regards to IP and thus promote confidence and knowledge sharing in research activities.

In the ITC sector, the Commission should pay more attention to pre-standardisation cooperation based on open standards and encourage links between results of research programmes and standardisation. This would help to remove obstacles to disseminating technologies in particular.

CONTEXT

This strategy for international science and technology cooperation constitutes one of the five strategic actions taken by the Commission in the wake of the 2007 Green Paper “The European Research Area: New Perspectives”. Furthermore, the strategy’s objective is to contribute to the free circulation of knowledge (the ‘European Union’s fifth freedom’) at a global level.

This strategy also follows on from the Commission’s 2006 Communication “Towards a Global Partnership in the Information Society” and a public consultation on the opening of new markets in the ICT sector organised in July 2007.

Last updated: 08.10.2008
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